Dom Carter dis­cov­ers how the path to creativ­ity is sel­dom lin­ear at TYPO Ber­lin 2017

Computer Arts - - Contents -

We re­port on wan­der­lust from TYPO Ber­lin, get sporty at thread and pre­view One Year On at New De­sign­ers

Tak­ing over the House of World Cul­tures once again, this year’s TYPO Ber­lin had five stages and mul­ti­ple work­shop spa­ces – and was also ac­com­pa­nied by some ap­par­ently con­trac­tual good weather. The three-day event was cen­tered around the idea of ‘wan­der­lust’, and boasted a suit­ably di­verse ar­ray of speak­ers from around the world, many of whom had ca­reers span­ning var­i­ous dis­ci­plines.

War jour­nal­ist Su­sanne Koelbl kicked things off with her take on wan­der­lust – that peo­ple leave their com­fort zones in pur­suit of hap­pi­ness and bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties, al­low­ing the au­di­ence to draw their own con­nec­tions with de­sign.

This hu­man­i­tar­ian thread was picked up by Pearl­fisher’s Jonathan Ford, who chal­lenged at­ten­dees with the claim that “de­sign­ers have be­come lazy,” adding that as an in­dus­try, we’re “im­mune to the con­se­quences of what we’re cre­at­ing.” He urged the au­di­ence to “use pas­sion and be­lief and sci­ence and art” to build a bet­ter world that will ben­e­fit ev­ery­one.

For Ty­potheque founder Peter Bil’ak, the fact that de­sign skills can be ap­plied to many dif­fer­ent con­texts is the best thing about be­ing a de­signer. Through a ca­reer that’s in­volved cre­at­ing in­no­va­tive floor tiles and chore­ograph­ing con­tem­po­rary dances, he has re­alised that re­ceived wis­dom about what makes good de­sign isn’t nec­es­sar­ily true. Chal­leng­ing the idea that good work is al­ways de­fined in re­la­tion to com­merce, he in­stead ar­gued that “good de­sign ben­e­fits all in­volved par­ties”.

Day two was about brand­ing, and leg­endary de­signer and brand con­sul­tant Michael John­son lead the way with a talk that fo­cused on the hu­man con­nec­tion at the core

of brand­ing. “Defin­ing how your brand feels is very im­por­tant,” said John­son. “You need to talk as a per­son, not an or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

Run­ning through his ap­proach to brand­ing (and bless­ing the venue with copies of his book Brand­ing: In Five and a Half Steps), John­son em­pha­sised the need to in­ves­ti­gate a brand’s con­text and de­fine why it needs to ex­ist. “If you can’t tell peo­ple why you’re here, you’re in trou­ble,” he stated.

Else­where, de­signer and artist Do­minic Wilcox shook up the idea of nor­mal­ity with a pre­sen­ta­tion of how his un­usual in­ven­tions, in­clud­ing a hel­met that scoops ce­real into the wearer’s mouth, have en­cour­aged chil­dren to bring their imag­i­na­tions to life and set­tle on ca­reer as­pi­ra­tions. “What you can read from this type of think­ing… I don’t know,” he con­fessed.

Erik Kes­sels, mav­er­ick cre­ative direc­tor of Kes­sel­sKramer, utilised a sim­i­lar sense of fun in his talk on day three. Draw­ing a huge crowd and big­ger laughs, his pre­sen­ta­tion charted a ca­reer that has seen him de­sign­ing ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns for aw­ful ho­tels and the fa­mous (and of­ten im­i­tated) I Am­s­ter­dam ty­po­graphic land­mark.

Mis­takes were the thrust of his talk, with Kes­sels point­ing out that “cre­ative peo­ple are pro­fes­sional clowns,” and that they should em­brace their er­rors. Work­ing in ad­ver­tis­ing is ar­guably a mis­take for Kes­sels, as he ad­mit­ted he hates the in­dus­try. How­ever, he re­minded the au­di­ence of TYPO Ber­lin 2017’s theme as a re­as­sur­ance that there’s al­ways an es­cape route when things go wrong. “As a cre­ative,” he said, “you can cross over to a lot of dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines.”

Clock­wise from far left: At­ten­dees gather out­side the House of World Cul­tures; Peter Bil’ak ex­plains why de­sign is an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary skill; Jonathan Ford on the eth­i­cal im­pact of cre­ative work; Erik Kes­sels urges the au­di­ence to em­brace their mis­takes.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY ABOVE AND BE­LOW: Ger­hard Kass­ner / Mono­type

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